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The 8 Best Air Compressors Reviewed

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air comrpessor filling up a tire with air

An air compressor is an easy-to-use, quality tool for saving you time and money on projects around the home. Whether it’s adding a little air in your tires, or using your power tools with precision like a pro, quality compressors make it easy. When you own an air compressor you are ready to take on any home improvement task. Sit back and relax as we provide you with the 8 best air compressors and a complete buyer’s guide so you can make an informed purchase decision!

Best Overall
CRAFTSMAN Pancake Air Compressor, 6 Gal
CRAFTSMAN Pancake Air Compressor, 6 Gal
  • Best oil free air compressor - durable / long lasting
  • Portable, 6 gallon pancake
  • 150 max PSI, 13 piece accessory kit
Premium Choice
Makita Quiet Series 2 Gal, 1 HP, Oil Free
Makita Quiet Series 2 Gal, 1 HP, Oil Free
  • Best quiet air compressor
  • Consistent performance, longer life
  • Induction motor, 1 HP & 135 PSI
Runner Up
BOSTITCH Pancake Air Compressor, 6 Gal
BOSTITCH Pancake Air Compressor, 6 Gal
  • BOSTITCH high efficiency, oil free motor
  • East to carry (29 lbs)
  • High flow regulator & couplers

Table of Contents

What To Look For in an Air Compressor

Before we jump into our comprehensive reviews of each compressor, let’s take a brief moment to cover the important factors you need to consider before making your purchase.

Simple Air Compressor Diagram
Air Compressor Diagram (Source)

How Does an Air Compressor Work?

A compressor takes in the air around it, compresses it, then forces it into a storage tank. The increased air pressure in the tank contains potential energy which can be deployed to power your tool of choice. 

Cubic feet per minute (CFM) is the measure of the air volume output rate a compressor can generate. In simple terms – this is the rate of airflow the compressor puts out. The air pressure and flow rate (CFM) are measured in relationship to each other.  

Air pressure is measured in pounds per square inch (PSI). This is the measurement of the actual air pressure generated in the tank when it is fully charged. Take note of this spec and ensure it is compatible with any air tools you may be using. Air tools typically require between 70 and 90 PSI.

Gas-Powered vs. Electric-Powered Air Compressors

The power source is an important consideration. Gas-powered compressors are typically for heavy-duty, industrial, or commercial use. We recommend electric-powered air compressors for your home. Electric compressors suit the majority of tasks any DIY project may require. Unless you need industrial power for your profession, stick to electric for a quieter experience with minimal maintenance.

Portability

Portability is a key factor and our recommended choices for best value air compressors are all portable and easy to use.  When considering portability, tank size becomes important. With a larger tank, comes a heavier compressor, making it less portable.

We recommend two different types of portable air compressors. The pancake and the hot dog air compressor.

Hot Dog Compressors

Hot dog air compressors are typically a bit larger. They are great for long-distance movements because they have wheels. This is beneficial if you’re traversing flat ground where you can wheel the compressor. Hot dog compressors are a bit thinner so they can be useful for smaller spaces.

However, If you’re primarily working in your garage or will not move around much, a pancake compressor is a great option.

Pancake Compressors

Pancake compressors are small, lightweight, and oil-free. They are easy to pick up and move. They will be more stable on top of most surfaces if you need to elevate the compressor (for example on a workbench).

These portable air compressors are the perfect companion for your home workshop. Whether you’re working with paint sprayers, air-powered tools, or topping off the air in your car tires, you can’t go wrong with a pancake compressor!

Air Compressor Tools & Accessories

Please take note that many air compressors are not sold with the accessories you need. Some are sold as kits and others are sold independently. Accessories you will need include air hoses, adapters with various nozzles, and any other tools you plan on using (inflation needles, tire chuck, or tire gauge). This is an important factor when comparing prices.

For more information see our FAQ section below. But now, let’s dive into our air compressor recommendations!

Best Air Compressor Reviews

Tire inflator
Best Overall
Best Pancake Air Compressor - CRAFTSMAN 6 Gallon, Pancake with 13 Piece Accessory Kit (CMEC6150K)

This Craftsman air compressor is an exceptional piece of equipment proudly Made in the USA by the workers in Jackson, TN. This compressor comes ready for work and includes a 25' PVC hose with industrial quick-connect fittings and a 6-piece inflation kit.  

Without a doubt, this is the best pancake air compressor on our list!  Backed by the solid Crafstman brand, this compressor features an oil-free pump making it more durable.  It's great for powering automotive maintenance jobs like cleaning, greasing joints, inflating, and assembly projects. Built-in storage for the air hose, power cord, and accessories add convenience.

The kit includes three inflator adapters, a tire chuck with plug, rubber tip, blog gun with plug, blog gun with OSHA safety nozzle, and a tire gauge. These kits are typically sold separately adding to the overall value of this product.

Key Specifications:

  • QUICK RECOVERY TIME:  2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI allows for quick compressor recovery time
  • GREAT PRESSURE:  150 Max PSI to ensure adequate pressure for a variety of applications
  • PORTABLE: 6-gallon pancake compressor maximizes portability and stored air
Premium Choice
Best Quiet Air Compressor - Makita Quiet Series, 1 HP, 2 Gallon, Oil-Free (MAC210Q)

This Makita will serve you well in so many ways and it's the best quiet air compressor we feature in this category. Our choice for use in the home, checking all the boxes; meeting the demands for performance, proficiency, power, and portability. Makita Air Compressors are favorites for their faster recovery time, lower noise, and longer tool life.

We chose this model because it is perfect for indoor or outdoor use. It's the best tool for carpentry, cabinet, or furniture making to name just a few indoor/outdoor use cases.  The Quiet Series Design combines strong performance with lower noise. Durability and longevity are important features.  The Makita runs at a lower RPM, resulting in a longer motor and a longer pump life.

It is powered by an efficient 1 horsepower induction motor that provides up to 135 PSI. It also features a lightweight design (only 44 lbs) for increased portability. Complete roll-cage construction provides protection to withstand a variety of job-site, transportation, and storage environments.  It's even great for simple tasks like rescuing your bicycle tires or blowing up an air mattress.  If you're looking for the best quiet air compressor, this is your pick!

Key Features:

  • QUIET:  60 dBA
  • MAX PRESSURE:  150 PSI max pressure allows more usable air to be stored in the tank
  • RELIABLE:  Delivers 2.8 SCFM @ 90 PSI and 3.7 SCFM @ 40 PSI


Honorable Mention
BOSTITCH Pancake Air Compressor, Oil-Free, 6 Gallon, 150 PSI (BTFP02012)

The Bostitch brand name has signaled quality and high performance for years. Don't let "runner up" fool you.  This is one of the best oil-free air compressors we feature.  This 6-gallon air compressor ranks at the top, meeting high standards for air demand. The Bostitch is a lightweight, portable, pancake compressor with a high-efficiency motor and an oil-free, maintenance-free pump.  

This Bostitch delivers 2.6 SCFM* at 90PSI, with 150 PSI maximum tank storage pressure, enabling long tool run times. Running quietly at a 78.5 dBA rating, it is ideal for the home environment. Weighing in at 29 lbs, this compressor is easy to carry and store - yet another plus. 

We highly recommend you take a look at the two tool or three tool compressor combo kits available for purchase:

- BOSTITCH Air Compressor Combo Kit, 3-Tool (BTFP3KIT)

- BOSTITCH Air Compressor Combo Kit, 2-Tool (BTFP2KIT) compatible with the BOSTITCH® high flow regulator and couplers which maximizes air tool performance.

Key Features:

  • Two universal couplers to easily support two users
  • Easy to start in cold weather
  • Long useful life




Best Budget
Best Budget Air Compressor - PORTER-CABLE 6-Gal, Pancake (C2002)

The Porter-Cable Pancake Air Compressor has been tested for years, ranking as a favorite choice for homeowners and small contractors. It has long earned a reputation for high quality and affordability. The Porter-Cable is easy to use, with an efficient induction motor that plugs directly into your home outlet.  

With so many reasonably priced components it wins our top choice for the best budget air compressor.  This may not be the cheapest air compressor you will find but it is the best value for sure.  The Porter-Cable is user-friendly and features an oil-free pump for maintenance-free operation and long life. It is lightweight and portable at 30lbs while still holding a 6 gallon, 150 psi tank. The compact design is simple to store. 

For those of you seeking the best bang for your buck - this deserves a serious look!

Key Features:

  • Quick Recovery:  2.6 SCFM* at 90 PSI
  • Two AirCouplers supports two users
  • Top Handle improves portability




Best Portable
Best Portable Air Compressor - Makita MAC100Q Quiet Series, 1/2 HP, 1 Gallon

This one-gallon wonder is ultra-quiet and our pick for the best portable air compressor to be used indoor or outdoor. It's incredibly versatile with use cases ranging from carpentry to camping. Much like the Makita 210Q featured earlier, the MAC 100Q boasts a Quiet Series Design and improved portability.

At only 58 dBA, it is ideal for indoor use. Frequently said after using the MAC 100Q - "I can't believe how quiet this compressor is." You will be amazed. The MAC100Q runs at a lower RPM, resulting in longer motor and pump life. It is powered by an efficient 1/2 horsepower induction motor, that provides up to 135 PSI.

Key Features:

  • Portable, lightweight - only 25.5 lbs.
  • Oil-free dual-piston pump designed for maintenance-free operation.
  • Complete roll-cage construction design




Best Oil
Best Oil Air Compressor - Makita Big Bore 2.5 HP (MAC2400)

There is little wonder why the Makita MAC2400 is one of the best, heavy-duty choices of the pros. We thought it was important to feature the best oil air compressor since all our other choices are oil-free.  This is it! 

The outstanding feature of the Makita MAC 2400 is the cast iron pump with the big bore cylinder and piston, engineered to provide faster recovery time. This leads to improved performance for all your tools from paint sprayer to nail gun. The pump is oil-lubricated for cooler running temperatures and reduced wear with a built-in thermal overload for additional motor protection.

The powerful 2.5 HP 4-Pole motor produces 4.2 CFM at 90 PSI for increased productivity and lower noise. The roll-cage construction provides additional protection to withstand extreme temperatures on the Jobsite. The pump runs at a lower RPM (1,730), resulting in lower noise (79dB), and improved pump durability. The Large automotive style industrial air filter allows for increased air intake and greater efficiency.

Key Features:

  • Oil-lubricated pump for cooler running  
  • Industrial air filter
  • Weighs 77 pounds




Best Shop
Best Shop Air Compressor - California Air Tools Ultra Quiet, 1.0 hp, 8 gal (8010A)

The one and only hot dog air compressor we feature in this article, and it's a workhorse!  This California Air Tool Compressor has a large 8.0-gallon aluminum air tank, yet is lightweight at only 37 lbs. Unlike our other options, the California Air Tools comes with wheels and a nice handle.  If you need to walk any significant distance, this is the way to do it!

The California Air Tools brand has distinguished itself for durability and reliability. It features an oil-free, piston pump system, designed to have a life cycle of over 3000+ hours compared to other similar compressor life cycles of 500 hours. It's ultra-quiet (60 dBA) and optimized for most workplaces. 

Please note: no hose included so you will need a ¼” Universal / Industrial Male Quick Connector to attach your hose to the air compressor.   

Key Features:

  • Powerful 1.0 HP (Rated / Running) 2.0 HP (Peak) Motor  
  • Comes complete with Wheel Kit & Air Filter 
  • Max Pressure – 120 PSI | Voltage – 110V 




Great Choice
DEWALT Pancake Air Compressor, 6 Gallon, 165 PSI (DWFP55126)

Dewalt is a known manufacturer of superior quality power tools. You may pay a little more for this bright yellow pancake tank compressor, but you certainly get what you pay for. Great for all your home projects, perfect to take on-site. This heavy-duty 6.0 Gallon, 165 Max PSI compressor is ideal for supporting a variety of pneumatic and air tool applications.

The long-life, oil-free pump requires low maintenance and delivers 2.6 SCFM at 90 PSI for long tool runtime and quick recovery. Easy storage on the job site or in the garage with the convenient cord wrap feature. 

This tank easily supports two users with its universal couplers.  You will find everything you need and more in this solid pancake air compressor!  

Key Features:       

  • Fast tank draining with ball drain valve
  • Marring protection with rubber leg covers.  
  • Lightweight (30 lbs), low noise (75.5 dBA)




Frequently Asked Questions

What Size Compressor is Best For Air Tools?

Most air tools for home use operate between 0-5 Cubic Feet per Minute (CFM) and 70 – 90 PSI. You will find some (like air sanders) that run at 8 – 12 CFM and 100 – 120 PSI. You must check the specs of commonly used tools. Feel free to refer to this CFM chart.

A 6 – 8 gallon air compressor will be suitable for the majority of your home needs. This should provide plenty of air to power most small air tools.

If you frequently use larger air tools like impact drivers and grinders, we recommend you bump up to a larger 20-gallon air compressor or you will be disappointed by the delay between tasks with the smaller tank compressors.

What is the Best Tire Inflator?

We recommend the Viair 88P if you’re looking for a true, portable, tire inflator. Any of our recommendations will work great for tires, but the Viair 88P will be much cheaper and much more transportable.

How Do I Use an Air Compressor?

A picture is worth a thousand words. We found this video to be very informative!

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